ITFC:’I refuse to accept we are in terminal decline, it can be turned around’.... But!

We welcome your posts...... Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

We welcome your posts...... Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

SIMON JONES is a season ticket holder at Portman Road. Here are his thoughts on the state of life at Ipswich Town.... We welcome your posts...

As a season ticket holder since the mid-90s, I’ve known only from the George Burley era onwards and can easily spend hours reading books and endless statistics of our truly great sides – what I would have given to see some of those greats players in person.

Football is a matter of opinions, and there are in all likelihood a significant number of reasons for the sad state of our great club. It’s been coming, yes – at times in painful slow motion - but I refuse to accept this is terminal decline, it can be turned around.

In actual fact, it may be nowhere near as difficult as some are trying to suggest.

The club is not, to my knowledge, broken. The owner pays the bills, and we are a fantastically supported club.

It’s been said before, but go to any away game and feel it – the support is epic.

The club, ordinarily, is only as good or bad as the team on the pitch. Fix that, and you fix the club. Marcus Evans may or may not be hampering the club in this regards, but it is hard to construct a valid argument for him being accountable for, say, the performance against Fleetwood; one of the most unforgivable displays in living memory!

Most Read

OWNERSHIP AND STRUCTURE

I am neither Marcus Evans’ biggest cheerleader or his biggest detractor.

I have long thought his biggest error was failure to put in place a coherent and visible structure – people on the ground with a genuine, relatable footballing plan.

Whether people such as Lee O’Neill have any genuine power, we don’t know.

If he is right person to devise a plan, then back him. What is relatively clear, is that we are not smart enough in the transfer market.

I have no particular issue with Marcus’ level of investment, more so how we compound the issue by spending the money badly that he is prepared to spend.

I don’t see anywhere near enough written about just how much money Paul Hurst was given, and how disastrously it was spent. Just because we have near nothing to show for it, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t spent.

Whatever the truth of the transfer fees involved, there seems little doubt that it ran in to millions of pounds to secure Jackson, Harrison, Edwards, Nsiala, Nolan, Donacien.

Not necessarily bad players, but surely paying well over the odds for what we’ve witnessed so far.

Where is it actually going wrong?

Do they have anyone involved in the transfer negotiations that truly understands what we are getting and what a good deal looks like? Does Marcus slow things up with his lack of availability – a recurring theme of managerial frustration? We rarely seem to come out of transfers well – in or out – and that needs to be addressed.

That is also before we consider the lack of footballing strategy – Hurst signed two of his better players from his time at Shrewsbury; he isn’t the first to have done that, but was there any strategic thinking, a bigger picture plan of how these various signings would work, or fit in to a clear system?

It doesn’t feel that way.

Unless Marcus hands true day to day power to a hard-nosed footballing executive with proper autonomy to take smart decisions at pace, it’s difficult to see how we avoid lurching from one random signing to another, in between the regular ‘worth a punt’ cheap loans and freebies that we have had to live with for years.

MANAGEMENT

It is difficult to know what to make of Paul Lambert’s reign.

It’s tempting to think that he is just the latest victim of an incoherent and chaotic structure, but his results record is simply indefensible. His position feels close to untenable, irrespective of the bizarre five-year contract.

I get the winning the fans back point, but it was founded on talk; that was never going to sustain us, the only thing that will bring this club back together is a sense of progress, winning games and scoring goals.

There just isn’t enough evidence of it.

Look hard at Lambert’s managerial record, particularly recently, and it’s difficult to comprehend why we would expect success from him here. Perhaps there’s a penchant for taking on clubs in an element of distress which unfairly damages his record, but flip that round and you have a manager who, in my opinion, increasingly appears incapable of making an impression these days.

It is hard to envisage Lambert being able to turn this round – there are surely no credible excuses left.

We have spent vastly more of the season that not in form that would leave us fighting a desperate battle to avoid relegation. If he knew what to fix he’d have done it by now. I see no argument for keeping him, and little to suggest that Evans’ ownership style guarantees failure for any manager who walks in the door.

PLAYERS

Opinion will always be torn on whether the current squad of players are good enough.

What they are most certainly not is the best in the league.

What Peterborough did to us in January, they’d do to us again tomorrow. Same as Rotherham. There is an ability gap against a number of teams which we seem unable to bridge.

What feels undeniable though is that they are underperforming – they have to be.

No-one is suggesting that this side is now almost too weak to even score in League One, let alone win. That bit will have to be addressed in Evans decision on Lambert when the time comes.

What is worth remembering for example, is that Hurst took a team including Nsiala and Nolan to the League One play off final – in Nolan’s case in particular, there is a really decent player in there somewhere, in my view at least.

What happens when these players come to Ipswich?

There is often passing comments about lack of leadership on message boards and in the EADT, and it feels true – we lack a spine to drive the team forward. We need better experienced players – players who have seen it all before, who know where to stand and can make it happen; lead by example.

Put one of those in central defence, central midfield, and in attack, and our team is transformed – certainly at League One level at least.

How do we find these players?

It comes back to being smarter in the transfer market. I was struck at how easily Glenn Whelan ran midfield for Fleetwood; he’s 36. Find a player like that and our problems won’t seem half as insurmountable.

Players of that calibre lead by example and young players learn from that – it’s a win win.

We need to find a way of moving on from Chambers and Skuse.

If nothing else, for the sake of variety, give someone else a chance to fail – for me, they have had theirs.

I would have been delighted to see them lead us to promotion this year, but it isn’t going to happen; and any notion of doing so next year is pure fantasy.

If Chelsea in the end could move on from Lampard and Terry, I’m sure we could find the courage and competence to do the same for our versions.

Through no fault of their own (which of us wouldn’t play if selected?), there may have been an untold damaging side effect from a notion of ‘undroppables’ which started under Mick.

That is incredibly damaging.

I’ve never been able to square that off with the regular assertion of Mick being a fantastic people manager and motivator; perhaps he just found a way.

But we are now on our third manager more or less continuing this concept for at least a couple of players whose performances don’t justify it if you ask me – and the decline simply continues.

Players are not stupid, far from it – they know who deserves to be in the team.

Whether that’s a reason for the players sometimes seeming to just have no joy in them, I don’t know, but something is causing it.

So there we have it – probably more questions than answers, and no one has the right answer (certainly not at the moment).

But what links all us fans is a desperation and determination for the club to succeed, and more importantly to see the club itself demonstrably want to succeed. The answer doesn’t have to be complicated. The club isn’t dead or dying – far from it.

Simple, competent steps could put this club back on the up sooner than we think.

SIMON JONES

- We welcome your posts.... e: mike.bacon@archant.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter